Honor for Duchesne High School soccer coach recognizes stellar program

Teak Phillips | teakphillips@archstl.org

Duchesne High School soccer coach Patrick Turner recently was named private and parochial schools 2015 Girls High School Regional Coach of the Year at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America national convention in Baltimore.

Turner led the Duchesne girls varsity soccer team to three consecutive state championships: in 2013 and 2014 in Class 1, and in 2015 in Class 2. Also in that time, he coached the Duchesne boys soccer team to two district titles and a quarterfinal appearance.

Turner gives credit to the players and coaches and cites the support of the Duchesne community.

A parishioner at St. Peter in St. Charles, Turner was hired as Duchesne's freshman soccer coach in 2010 and promoted to varsity soccer coach for both the boys and girls in 2013.

"It's very humbling to be recognized by fellow coaches, especially in this category of private and parochial because there's no classification separation," he said, noting that Duchesne has an enrollment of 323. "It's Class 1 through 4 all across the country, all thrown into the same pool whereas public schools are separated by the size of the school."

Coaching fraternity

The St. Louis area has mostly homegrown coaches, often outstanding players themselves who teach the next generation what they have learned. He called St. Louis soccer "a tight-knight community. You often know someone who played for a certain parish then went to a public or private high school, continued on in college, came back and coached."

His soccer career began at St. Elizabeth/St. Robert Parish and then Duchesne, from where he graduated in 2003. Turner received a business degree from Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., where he attended on a leadership scholarship. At Westminster, he played soccer all four years and worked as a volunteer coach for a year. He continued both playing soccer and volunteering his coaching talents to youth soccer teams until being hired at Duchesne.

"I feel so blessed to be able to come back to Duchesne and give back to a school and program that meant so much to me as a student and young player," Turner said. "It's a very rewarding experience to be able to coach this generation of young student athletes."

Founded as St. Peter High School in St. Charles in 1924, Duchesne is a Catholic, coeducational, college preparatory school affiliated with the archdiocese. Every coach on both soccer staffs is a graduate of Duchesne.

Turner specializes in finding a motivational tool for each player and building off it, an approach that's no different in sports than in any other area in connecting with young people. He isn't a coach who screams at players on the sideline. The players respond well, "putting 110 percent in, putting all their heart and passion into whatever they're doing, whether in the classroom or on the athletic field," he said.

2016 girls team

The girls team that will play in the spring has a mix of experienced returning players and younger players. "I expect more of the same, to give us a chance to get back to the Final Four," the coach said. "From there anything can happen when you're competing for a state championship.

Duchesne has a strong senior class, including four players who have been on the team since their freshman years: Courtney Reimer, who signed to play with St. Louis University in the fall; Ryan Kielty; Emily Bennett; and Hannah Shambro. Their role will include mentoring the younger players.

According to Turner, Duchesne has students with a wide variety of talents in the classroom and in fine arts as well as sports. Many are multi-sport athletes, and he likes seeing that.

"When I was growing up, soccer was my favorite sport, but I played every sport that our parish offered," he said. "That's how you meet people and make friends, lifelong friendships."

He encourages even high school players to play other sports.

"Just so you don't burn yourself out in one sport," Turner said. "Also you're going to learn something playing basketball that you'll carry over to soccer and vice versa. That goes for all kinds of sports." 

Duchesne soccer

Last spring, the Duchesne girls soccer team won its third state championship in a row.

With 1:18 left in a game tied at 2-2, Jane Skaggs dribbled around several defenders before lifting a booming shot just under the crossbar to the elation of her teammates and legion of fans who traveled to Blue Springs, Mo. Duchesne had jumped to a 2-0 lead only to see St. Pius X of Kansas City even the score on a tiring team playing on a warm day on artificial turf.

"That's storybook stuff right there," an exhuberhant Duchesne coach Patrick Turner said after the game, noting that Skaggs, who scored the game-winner in the semifinals, was injured early in the second half, but insisted she was OK to stay in the game.

Turner said Duchesne's motto of "mind, body, spirit," translates to the field. "We talk about having faith in your team, having faith in God ... He's given you the talents, and we pay Him back by coming out and using those talents to the best of our abilities, whether it's playing, coaching or the fans supporting us." 

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